It’s well known that being truly healthy is very difficult if you have diseases in your mouth. Research has shown associations between oral diseases and diabetes, osteoporosis, respiratory and heart diseases, nutritional deficiencies, development of frailty, low birth weight babies and pre term births. Oral diseases and missing teeth also affect a person’s ability to get and keep employment, eat a healthy diet, socialize and live independently.
Primary oral health care is not covered by OHIP, and as a result, not everyone in Ontario has access to oral health care. Studies have found that an estimated 17 per cent of people in Ontario have not visited a dentist in the past year. The main reason is the cost. The private dentistry model is not working for everyone in Ontario. It definitely is not working for the at-risk older adult whose nutrition suffers because of inadequate oral care. The connection amongst inadequate nutrition, muscle wasting, frailty and falls is a strong quality of life issue for those on limited incomes.
In 2014, the Ontario Government made a promise to expand dental care to include low income adults. Since then, the Ontario Oral Health Alliance has led campaigns to promote the need for this to happen sooner because adults and seniors are suffering now. With over 61,000 Ontarians visiting an Emergency Room for dental related issues each year, costing the system at least $31 million dollars for nothing but the provision of a painkiller or antibiotic, the need for change is evident. With an election coming up in June, OOHA has prepared a strategy to help ensure that all parties include access to dental care for low income adults and seniors on their platforms.
This webinar is hosted by the Seniors Health Knowledge Network Fall Prevention Community of Practice.